Crabs or Crotch Crickets
By Garland Davis
A scourge of the Asia sailor was a little bug called crabs or crotch crickets. To the Corpsman, they were known as pubic lice. They are usually spread through sex, because they like to live in pubic hair. Pubic lice move easily from one person’s hairs to another person’s hairs when their genitals touch or are very close to each other. Sometimes they’re spread through other kinds of close, personal contact. You can get pubic lice where other types of coarse hair — like eyelashes, eyebrows, chest hair, armpits, beards, and mustaches — touch places on someone’s body where crabs are. Sometimes pubic lice are spread by using an infected person’s clothes, towels, or bed.
I knew an Electrician’s Mate who swore they could climb bunk chains and high-line from one bunk to another. He came to the galley and took a couple of the disks cut from the large number ten cans and constructed a pair of miniature rat guards from them. When asked what they were, he replied. “Crab guards, Beck has crotch crickets.” He installed them on the bunk chains
I remember a sailor from another ship long ago who had an extremely hairy torso and had crabs from his neck to his ankles. The Doc told me he was afraid he would have to shave his body if the cream didn’t work.
I was in one ship that only had two large berthing compartments for the two hundred forty man crew. I went to sick bay very upset because I had the crabs. Doc told me, “On this ship you either have the crabs, are getting over the crabs, or are catching the crabs,.” I probably had them a half dozen time while I was in that ship.
Crabs don’t spread through quick, casual touching, like handshakes or hugs. And it’s EXTREMELY rare to get crabs from a toilet seat — crabs don’t live very long when they’re away from a human body, and they can’t hang onto smooth surfaces. So if you had or have the crabs chances are you were doing what good Asia Sailors do when ashore.
There is a lot of stuff at the drugstore that the sailor can buy to treat the bugs. If you have them in your eyebrows see the Doc. Those need special treatment.
BTW! Launder all towels and bedding. Notify anyone you have been doing the horizontal tango with so they can treat themselves at the same time you do, otherwise the little bugs will come to visit again.